Telegram took down ‘hundreds’ of calls for violence from public US channels

0a1059f0-ef1b-11e9-bbef-716b7a2e5cd0With just two days before Wednesday’s presidential inauguration, Telegram said it has spent much of the last two weeks monitoring the situation in the US and subsequently taking enforcement action. In a post to his public channel spotted by The Verge…

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GPD WIN 3 gaming handheld PC mixes old design with new hardware

The success of the Nintendo Switch revived interest in portable gaming consoles and gave birth to some devices and smartphone accessories that tried to capitalize on that. Even before the age of the Switch, however, GPD was already trying its luck with dedicated Android gaming handhelds before stumbling upon a niche yet profitable portable PC gaming market. Its latest attempt … Continue reading

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New MacBook Pros to Reportedly Lose the Touch Bar

MacBook-Pros-Touch-Bar-Featured.jpg Are you wondering why you’re seeing “Touch Bar” trending all over? The answer is that it’s been widely reported that Apple is ditching the Touch Bar on upcoming MacBook Pros and that it’s also bringing back the MagSafe charger. How valid are these reports? The Return of MagSafe This isn’t the first we have heard of Mag Safe in recent months. It actually made its return with iPhone 12 models, snapping onto the back of the handsets as a charging method. It stood to reason that MagSafe wasn’t going to be isolated to the iPhones. … Read more14225398.gif

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How to See What Data Google Has on You (and Delete It)

There are a few companies that people seem to have trust issues with. Google is one of them, and it’s no mystery that the company collects a lot of data about you. But just how much does it have? Let’s check.

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Why You Don’t Need an Expensive Smartphone Anymore

The $500 Pixel 4a 5G.The $500 Pixel 4a 5G sets the benchmark for mid-range phones, but you can still go a lot cheaper. Google

As flagship devices from Samsung, Apple, Google, and OnePlus get more and more expensive, you might feel forced to keep up with the increased prices. But times have changed, and most phones under $500 offer the performance, battery life, and camera quality that used to be reserved for high-end handsets. In other words, you don’t need an expensive phone anymore.

“Downgrading” from a flagship to a mid-range or budget phone can be a little anxiety-inducing, especially if you’re a geek who loves cutting-edge features. But cheap phones can still feel like a solid upgrade thanks to improved camera tech, faster charging speeds, and other neat perks. Sure, you won’t get the groundbreaking features that come with $1,000 devices, but you may be surprised to see just how unimportant most of those exclusive features actually are.

Mid-Range Phones Rock

The OnePlus Nord N10 5G, a $300 phone that punches far above its weight.The OnePlus Nord N10 5G, a $300 phone that punches far above its weight. Andrew Heinzman

In our recent buying guide What’s the Least You Should Spend on a Smartphone, the standout devices all lay within the $300 to $500 range. That’s where “flagship” performance meets killer camera tech, flashy OLED displays, and the occasional 5G modem. Some devices, like the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, even throw 30-watt Warp Charging charging into the mix—but what does the average mid-range phone look like?

Let’s take a look at the Pixel 4a 5G. Released at the tail-end of 2020, the 4a 5G sets the benchmark for today’s mid-range phones. It sports a large 6.2-inch OLED HDR display, an unbeatable dual-camera array, a headphone jack, NFC for contactless payments, and an impressively snappy 5G-capable Snapdragon 765G processor. What more do you need?

Other mid-range phones dance around the Pixel 4a 5G’s specs, usually swapping camera quality or processing power for a larger display, a two-day battery life, wireless charging, flexible quad-camera arrays, ultra-fast wired charging, a 90hz refresh rate, and other perks.

And while you might assume that $300 phones offer slower performance than the $500 Pixel 4a 5G, that isn’t necessarily the case. The 4a 5G’s price tag is mainly a consequence of its 5G capabilities, which aren’t all that useful today. Cheaper 4G LTE devices like the standard Pixel 4a, the BLU G90 Pro, and the iPhone SE (2020) offer comparable performance at a much lower price. In fact, the iPhone SE (2020) contains the second-fastest mobile phone processor of all time, Apple’s A13 Bionic chip (bested only by the iPhone 12’s A14 chip).

This isn’t to say that mid-range phones are perfect. Manufacturers often skip wireless charging and IPX water-resistance ratings in mid-range phones to cut costs. (The iPhone SE is a notable exception.) Mid-range phones also tend to use older, less durable Gorilla Glass than their flagship alternatives. The Pixel 4a 5G, for example, uses Gorilla Glass 3, while the more expensive Pixel 5 has a Gorilla Glass 6 panel. These shortcomings won’t impact the average user’s experience, but they may be a turn off if you’re upgrading from a flagship device.

Today’s Cheap Phones Offer Years of Usability

The Pixel 4a 5G, a benchmark for mid-range phones.The Pixel 4a 5G, a benchmark for mid-range phones. Michael Crider

One of the big selling points for flagship phones is that they last for a long time. Why buy a cheap phone every year when you can enjoy a flagship device for three or four years? In the not-so-distant past, I would agree with that argument. But today’s mid-range phones are here for the long haul thanks to their advanced performance and, depending on the manufacturer, guaranteed update cycles.

The big thing here is power and performance. So long as your phone has a decent processor (and most mid-range phones do), you shouldn’t have any trouble running your usual apps and games for the next few years. You’ll only run into problems with demanding applications, like 3D games, which grow more resource-hungry with every release.

But you don’t just want your phone to be usable, you also want it to keep up with new features and security patches. That’s why, if you plan to use a mid-range phone for more than 2 years, you may want to stick with Google, Samsung, or Apple. These companies guarantee 3 years of security updates and 2 years of OS updates (iPhones go a bit longer, with around 5 years of security and OS updates). While your phone doesn’t need the latest version of an OS to run your most-used apps, the regular OS updates can keep your phone feeling fresh, and extended security updates make you less vulnerable to hackers, bugs, and unsafe applications.

Budget phones in the $100 to $200 range still lack the lifespan of their mid-range and flagship counterparts, which is why I suggest a year-old mid-range device if you’re on a tight budget. It’s also worth pointing out that, while brands like OnePlus, LG, ASUS, Motorola, and Sony don’t commit to 3-year update cycles, their phones are usually more cost-effective than products from The Big Three, which may be a decent trade-off if you don’t care about OS updates or security patches.

Do You Really Need High-End Features?

The $1,000 iPhone 12 Pro---a pretty expensive phone!The $1,000 iPhone 12 Pro—a pretty expensive phone! Justin Duino

Mid-range phones offer great performance and years of usability, and they often support features that were exclusive to flagships just two or three years ago. But what about all the cool cutting-edge features that come with a $1,000 phone? Isn’t that stuff worth the extra money?

Yeah, some flagship features are absolutely worth the money, but they probably aren’t the cutting-edge features that you’re thinking of. Like I mentioned earlier, flagships usually have tougher glass than their mid-range cousins, along with IPX water-resistance ratings and wireless charging. These perks are accompanied by brighter display technology, premium “clickly” buttons, high-quality speakers, better night photography, extra RAM for multitasking, and glass backs (although some flagships are pivoting to plastic, which is fine).

These are modest features make your phone more reliable, durable, and usable. They aren’t flashy or superfluous, and they give you a real reason to spend the money on a flagship device (or a flagship that’s a year or two old, if you don’t mind the limited manufacturer support). Cutting-edge flagship features, on the other hand, are rarely worth spending your money on. Foldable display tech is in its infancy, MagSafe charging is cool but unnecessary, and LiDAR is … well, it has a lot of potential, but app developers need to get serious about it first.

The two most compelling cutting-edge features are 120hz displays and 5G support, although both technologies eat up battery life and aren’t nearly as useful as they may seem. It’s true, 5G is faster than 4G LTE and will revolutionize the internet, but 5G networks (and especially the ultra-fast mmWave5G networks) won’t be available to the average person for another couple years. And while a 120hz display might make the animations on your phone look buttery-smooth, 60hz and 90hz displays look fine as it is.

While expensive flagships still have a place in the world, the benefits of buying a high-end device are questionable. Mid-range phones kick ass at half the price of their flagship counterparts, and often offer years of usability and guaranteed OS updates. Plus, flagship features aren’t as groundbreaking as they used to be, and may never impact the average person’s experience.

Tip: Shopping for a new phone? Be sure to check out the companion piece to this article, What’s the Least You Should Spend on a Smartphone. It provides an overview of the best phones at each at each price point so you can buy a killer device without breaking your budget.

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How to See Which iPhone Apps Are Accessing Your Camera

Few iPhone privacy issues make people as nervous as whether an app is using your camera or not. Luckily, thanks to Apple’s Privacy settings, it’s easy to know which apps have access to your iPhone’s built-in camera. Here’s how to check—and how to revoke access if necessary.

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How to Make Signal Your Default SMS Messaging App on Android

Signal is a popular privacy-focused, encrypted messaging app. It’s an alternative to WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and others. There’s a lot to like about the app, and if you make the switch, it can even replace your SMS app.

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Skullcandy Crusher Evo Review: Brain-Rattling Bass

The Skullcandy Crusher Evo headphones in black lying on a white desktopCameron Summerson

Someone less smart than me once said “it’s all about that bass, no treble.” I believe one half of this statement to be true (have you ever listened to music with no treble? No thanks.)—it really is all about the bass. I mean, when it comes to headphones, anyway. And if you like bass, the Skullcandy Crusher Evo are for you.

What makes the Crusher Evo special is a unique “Sensory Bass” slider on the side of the left cup. This in effect allows you to customize the amount of bass in music far beyond what would normally be allowed by a simple software EQ.

With the Sensory Bass slider all the way down, you get the amount of bass a reasonable human being can appreciate. With it all the way up, it can literally rattle your vision. No one needs this much bass. But if you want it, but golly you can have it. I find the sweet spot to be about one-quarter of the way up, which should give you some sort of indication of just how aggressive this slider is. It’s nuts.

And while the bass slider is the Crusher Evo’s standout feature, they honestly sound pretty damn good in their own right, too. I’ve been exceptionally impressed with all the Skullcandy stuff I’ve tried over the last year, and the Crusher Evo is no exception. They’re shockingly well-balanced to be such a bass-heavy set of cans. Even with the bass slider up, it doesn’t drown out other frequencies.

A closeup of the bass slider and charging portThat’s where I keep the slider most of the time. Almost all the way down. Cameron Summerson

My go-to test song for headphones is Fireflies by Owl City (ugh), and I was surprised at just how well the Crusher Evos responded to the chorus. The bass is obviously present, but all the little nuances throughout the chorus are still very present and represented. Despite being very bassy, the balance is excellent.

Similarly, Widower by Make Them Suffer, one of my favorite tracks on my headphone testing playlist, really displays how articulate these cans can be. It’s a heavy-as-a-tank sort of track with low guitars and growling vocals juxtaposed by chimey, pristine piano and strong double-bass drums. Everything comes through beautifully (well, as beautiful as a song this heavy can be, anyway). The extra bass hit at the start and end of the chorus is not just present but bone rattling. I love it.

So, while the bass slider is what makes these headphones unique, they’re not just a one trick pony. They genuinely sound good.

Fit and Features

It’s uncharacteristic for me to start a headphone review with the audio section, but since the bass slider is the main selling point of these particular cans, it just made sense to me. As with most headphones, though, the audio quality is just one piece of the “are these really good?” puzzle—there’s also the fit and available features to consider.

A closeup of the padding on the earcupCameron Summerson

When it comes to fit, these are around-ear headphones, which is almost always my preference for headphones since they don’t crush (heh) my ears. The cup pads are comfortable enough for extended wearing and don’t mess with my glasses, both of which are big wins in my book. The padding on the band it s a little denser than the cups, but still soft enough to be comfortable on my bald head. Band padding is important when you don’t have built-in padding on your head. 😉

As for the layout, aside from the bass slider, these are pretty straightforward. Volume and play/pause are on the right cup, with the power button, bass slider, and USB-C charging port on the left. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack for wired listening. Nothing really special going on here—just the standard affair. It works. It’s fine.

A closeup of the bandCameron Summerson

Like many other recent Bluetooth headphones, the Crusher Evo features a personalized sound profile option that will fine-tune the audio experience for your ears. It’s a quick audio test that then builds an optimized audio experience. While I didn’t find the difference to be dramatic, it’s definitely noticeable. They sound better with my personalized profile enabled, with more audible frequency ranges hitting the ol’ eardrums than without the feature enabled. I recommend using it—you can get it in the Skullcandy app (Android/iOS).

So, what is the Crusher Evo missing? One standout feature for many users: Active Noise Cancelling. In order to get ANC and all the other features in the Crusher Evo, you’ll need to step up to the Crusher ANC, which cost $120 more (retail pricing). It’s a pricey upgrade to be sure, and I find the passive noise isolation of the Evo to be enough for my use. If ANC and an insane amount of bass are must-haves for you, then the Crusher ANC may be worth the extra money.

Tip: I’ve seen the Crusher ANC as low as $200 in the past, so if you’re vigilant you can score a solid deal. The black model is only $210 at the time of writing!


A white mannequin head wearing a solid white mask and the Crusher EvoThat’s Brian. He helps me test headphones on occasion. He also likes the Crusher Evo. Cameron Summerson

Between the on-the-fly bass adjustment that can rattle your skull enough to alter your vision, the excellent 40-hour battery life, good overall sound quality, and comfort for long periods of time, I’m sold on the Crusher Evo. They’re a fantastic set of cans, especially for the price—they retail for $199, but are generally $180 or less on Amazon, where they also have a five-star rating. That tells me I’m not alone in my assessment—these are just good cans.

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FBI charges woman who reportedly tried to send Pelosi laptop to Russian intelligence

Riley Williams, a 22-year old woman who allegedly participated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, has been charged by the FBI over her role in the riot. NBC News’s Tom Winter reports that she “told a former partner that she intended to take a laptop / hard drive stolen from Pelosi’s office, ship it to Russia, where a friend would turn it over to the SVR.” — Read the rest

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How to Prioritize Upgrades for Your Desktop Computer

computer-upgrades-box-cutter.jpg A slow or otherwise failing computer is never a good sign, especially for your wallet. Part of the problem is knowing which element of your computer is at fault and how it’s best rectified. After this information is known, you’ll need to prioritize those upgrades for your desktop computer. In this piece, we break down some of the most user-changeable parts of a computer and discuss the importance of each. We also discuss which you should look to upgrade first. How to Know When You Need to Prioritize Upgrades for Your Computer Ultimately, only you… Read more14225936.gif

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